This Startup Just Raised $25 Million To Help Airlines Upsell You On Your Next Flight

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In 2017, Stephen Grabowski and Joe Sarre were working together with travel booking company Skyscanner. While there, they realized that it was a pain for customers to add accommodations to their flights. That’s because of the challenges involved in integrating the airline companies’ software with the interfaces of websites like Skyscanner. Grabowski and Sarre thought they’d figured out a solution to the problem, which led them to start their own company, Gordian Software. To get their first customers, they started straight at the top.

“I started cold emailing VPs and very senior people at airlines and travel companies from my Gmail, and people were responding. Which is very unusual given that these people are very busy,” Grabowski says. Soon after starting their outreach, the pair signed on travel firm Travix as their first customer.

If you’ve booked a flight recently, you might have been using Gordian’s software without even realizing it. The company’s primary product is an Application Programming Interface (API) that plugs into an airline’s ticket-booking software to sell ancillaries or flight add-ons such as baggage, seat selection, boarding, etc.

On Tuesday, the company announced that it has raised $25 million in Series A funding, led by venture firm Accomplice and its sister firm Vinyl. Joining the round are Kinnevik, DST Global Partners and Latitude, firms whose other travel investments include Airbnb, Hopper and TravelPerk. The round brings the company’s total venture backing to $33 million.

Prior to the introduction of Gordian’s product, if you booked a flight from travel websites like Priceline and Hopper, you might have had to click an extra link to the airline’s website to purchase amenities for the flight. That challenge, says Grabowski, comes from the fact that travel sites have to pull data from dozens of different airlines during the course of the booking process. “It’s difficult for them to enhance each one of those connections to add seat selection or to add baggage,” he explains. “That is the friction we remove from the travel website"

One of those frictions, for example, had been enabling customers to pick their seats. "Since integrating Gordian's airline seat map solution, we've been able to offer our customers a more seamless purchasing experience through our app," Dakota Smith, chief strategy officer at Hopper, said in a statement.

With the new infusion of capital, Gordian aims to extend its product offerings to incorporate add-ons like travel insurance, health testing, ground transportation and automatic check-ins. The company plans to hire more to do that, doubling or tripling its current headcount of 30 full time employees by the end of the year.

“We are going to be expanding quite dramatically to 50 or 100 upsell products,” says Grabowski. “Everything from premium economy or meals, but also things like ground transportation or different kinds of flexibility products.”

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